The A’s made history Monday night by setting a new Major League record, albeit a record that they wanted no part of.
For the tenth consecutive Opening Day Oakland found themselves on the losing end of the contest, wasting a solid starting performance from their young ace Sonny Gray in an eventual 2-0 loss at the hands of the Indians.
“You don’t talk about it, you obviously hear it going around, but I don’t think that really factored into the game,” said Gray about the winless streak. “We were just a play here and a play there short.”
After the rain clouds parted and the ceremonial pre-game hoopla was completed, 36,067 anxious A’s fans watched a 0-0 tie go into the ninth-inning with new closer and $10-million man Jim Johnson taking the mound. Four base runners and two game-deciding runs later, the righty walked to the dugout to a chorus of “Boo’s” after a disappointing debut.
“I sucked today, I deserved that,” a somber Johnson said after the game. “Next time they’ll be cheering.”
It appeared that the A’s would be the first to cross the plate in the bottom of the eighth, when with two men aboard, Josh Donaldson blasted a ball to dead-center field that was knocked down by the 49-degree night and bounced off the top of the wall at the 400-foot sign and back into play.
“I thought it was off the suites,” said Donaldson of his near three-run homer.
Lead runner Daric Barton retrieved to second base appearing to attempt to tag up on the play if the ball was caught, and only made it to third base resulting in one of the longest singles possible. The base running blunder cost the A’s a run, and Oakland would not score in the frame.
“I’m not frustrated with Barton, I was more frustrated it didn’t get out. When you hit a ball probably as good as I can, you want to see the results of that,” said Donaldson. “We make mistakes in this game, and I’m sure if it were to go again it would be handled differently.”
The bright spot of the night was Gray, who became just the second Oakland Opening Day starting pitcher to not allow a run (Tim Hudson, 2003), as he scattered five hits and three walks while striking out seven batters over six innings.
“He fought. Times when things weren’t going well for him he was able to fight through it and still put up zeros,” said Bob Melvin.
The A’s have combined for just 13 runs during their current winless Opening Day streak, however the back-to-back division champions have not let that deter them from their goals over the 162-game season.
“This is game one, so there’s no panic around here. We’ll turn the page tomorrow and come out here and try and win a game,” proclaimed Donaldson.
Next up for the A’s will be lefty Scott Kazmir making his Oakland debut against his former team Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 as the A’s will look to get into the win column for the first time in 2014.